How did this tree get big!!!?!

So many of my clients are surprised that the little sapling they planted is now a huge tree. It's important when you plan your garden and start planting trees to understand how big they will grow and to keep them maintained in a way that supports how you use your garden. Arborists can help your tree grow in the shape and direction that you want so that the garden is perfect for your family. My blog has tips for the home owner on keeping your tree healthy and, of course, tips on when to use an arborist to get the perfect result.

When Trees Go Rogue: Facts You Need To Know About Tree Disputes With Your Neighbours


In March 2015, a two-year-old Victorian toddler was killed when a gum tree fell onto the family home during a storm. While this tree was on council property, there have been plenty of other instances of property damage caused by trees that were part of a continued dispute between neighbours. With winter on its way, this is the last chance you have to arrange maintenance for trees on your property, and to come to an arrangement about those that are overhanging into your neighbour's yard. These are the facts you need to know:

Tree Maintenance

The gum tree that fell on the toddler's home had indications that it was partly decayed, and if you have a gum tree in this condition on your property, you have an obligation to both yourself and your neighbours to have the tree inspected by a tree consultant. During the inspection, the consultant will be looking at several parts of the tree, including:

  • The base of the tree. They will be looking for any damage to the roots of the tree which may be hiding under a layer of moss. If the roots are not firmly in the ground, a strong storm could blow it over.
  • The limbs of the tree. They are looking for signs of termite infestation which will have weakened the limbs of the tree. Weak limbs could easily fall on a house, vehicle, or person during a storm.
  • The trunk of the tree. If the bark is peeling from the trunk or splits are appearing, it is possible that trunk rot has developed due to the tree being infected by a fungus.

After a close inspection, a qualified tree consultant will be able to tell you whether your trees need any maintenance attention, or if any are so far gone that they are a dangerous hazard that should be removed.

Refusing To Maintain Trees

You can, as a property owner, refuse to follow this maintenance advice if you wish. However, you should know that your neighbours still have some rights if you do so. In particular:

  • Your neighbour can trim back any part of your tree that is over their property. However, they can only trim it back to the property line.
  • The cost of trimming the tree will rest with the neighbour, but they may approach you seeking a contribution since it is your tree they are trimming.
  • If part of your tree falls onto the neighbour's property, and they can prove that you were negligent regarding maintenance, they could sue you for any damages done to their property.
  • If your tree is causing "unreasonable and substantial interference" to your neighbour, you may find yourself being asked to attend a dispute resolution conference.

Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria

If you cannot come to an agreement with your neighbour regarding the maintenance and upkeep of your trees, and they feel that the trees are dangerous, then they may take the matter to the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV).

The DSCV is a great source of information if you have been approached by a neighbour regarding your trees. They have video resources available which can educate you on your rights, as well as provide tips for how to amicably resolve any issues between you and your neighbour. If you cannot agree, then mediation between you and your neighbour will be the next step.

At the end of the day, the health of any tree planted on your property is your responsibility. Now is the best time of year to get a tree consultant like Australian Tree Consultants Pty. Ltd out to inspect your trees before winter arrives. Your trees are about to go dormant over the winter months, and removing any damaged areas now will encourage fresh growth in your backyard when spring rolls around again.


14 April 2015